Divorcing Your Financial Future

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Passion to the Third Degree.

Two female friends are going through divorces right now. They left their husbands not for other men but for their own physical and mental health. They’ve tried to leave their spouses many times before but were always “guilted” or intimidated into staying.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

One was arrested a few times for abusing her policeman husband by allegedly beating him up. The judge always recognized the ploy for what it was, fussed at the husband for playing games, and threw out the charge. After all, she’s 5 feet tall, maybe 90 pounds soaking wet, and he’s 6’6’ and literally three times her size. Not long ago, she had enough and finally left him.

The other friend kept reconciling because her husband would get drunk after she walked out and either hurt the family pets or himself and tell her it was her fault for making him do it. She, too, finally had enough (and took the pets with her).

Both women have been telling me their legal woes. Both are taking on their exes’ gigantic debts, including pre-marital debts. Both are giving away almost all their assets. Neither is asking for child support, alimony, or anything from their homes or years of marriage. Both are giving their husbands pre-marital and non-marital assets. And their husbands are still not satisfied! Both husbands want more, more, more!

“And your lawyer’s not doing anything about it?” They’ve both heard me rant. “I can’t believe your lawyer’s not taking care of you. How is this an equitable settlement when you’re getting 10% of the assets, max, and 100% of the liabilities, including what’s not legally yours? I don’t understand. Fire your lawyer and get a decent one!”

I’ll admit, I’ve ranted to each of them on this subject because the financial arrangements they were agreeing to will leave them in so much debt that they will never be free to fulfill their dreams of a different career or travel or even a long vacation. They are both accepting severe financial restrictions with no thought about their future.

“Get you a different lawyer,” I’ve argued.

They’ve refused. Won’t even consider it.

I know, I know. It’s none of my business except after listening to hours of bitching and wondering how they’ll provide for their kids and should they take on an extra job, I start urging them to take control and get a decent attorney who can be a champion to them while they are taking care of normal daily stresses as well as the emotional stress of a marriage dissolving.

Finally, the truth came out, with both women, within a couple of days of each other. Both sheepishly revealed that their lawyers had tried to get them to fight for a more equitable deal but the women had insisted on giving away their financial futures, against their lawyers’ recommendations. The lawyers were as much at their wits’ ends with my friends as I was.

Why do people do that? Just give away everything to leave a situation, instead of handing it over to someone objective who can champion their causes without all the emotions that sabotage a person into thinking more about the past than the future?

Then again, had I not had a great attorney and the willingness to let him handle what I emotionally could not, I would have done the same thing—and then the career and life options I’ve started exploring now would never be any more than a fantasy.


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